Inductees Gene Petty was one of the most talented all-around athletes ever to play for Peoria Manual High School - or any other local high school.
Playing in the late 1950s, Petty was all-state first team in baseball and football and was selected to the all-city team in basketball.
As a 6-foot-1, 185 pound halfback, Petty was selected to the first team all-City team in both 1956 and 1957, playing a key offensive role on Ken Hinrichs-coached teams that went 8-1-1 in 1956 and 7-1-2 in 1957.
"I've always felt he was as good an athlete as we've had come out of Peoria," praises Hinrichs. "He's right alongside the best we've had."
Wooed by both the Big Ten and the Big Eight, Petty accepted a football scholarship to Missouri over Illinois and Michigan. But he never got around to college football.
Also an outstanding shortstop, he selected baseball over football and signed a $30,000 bonus contract with the Chicago Cubs after his senior year at Manual.
He was sent to Paris, Ill., of the Midwest League to close out the 1958 season and divided 1959 between Paris and Carlsbad, New Mexico in the Cub chain.
He played at St. Cloud, Minn., in the Northern League through the 1960 and 1961 seasons and then decided to leave professional baseball.
But he was not done with sports.
In 1963 Buffalo Bills coach Lou Saban signed him to an $8,000 contract as a place kicker, but he never appeared in an NFL game.
Always a fine golfer, after returning home, he concentrated on his links game and played 15 years in Championship flight in the city tournament, being medalist one year. He also qualified for five Peoria Publinks teams.
He joined the Peoria Park District in golf management and at the time of his induction was golf professional at Madison golf course.
Gene Petty was one of the most talented all-around athletes ever to play for Peoria Manual High School - or any other local high school.
Larry Leitner was among the state's elite officials for more than 40 years, officiating high school, college and professional sporting events from 1960 through 2003 and he remains involved in sports by serving on the board of directors for the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament, as well as evaluating current officials and moderating IHSA rules clinics.
Among his officiating highlights, Leitner worked more IHSA basketball and football tournament games than any official in the state's history, earning 27 consecutive boys basketball regional assignments. He also worked the IHSA boys basketball state finals in 1973, 1974 and 1976, including the 1976 championship game, and three IHSA football finals, including the first-ever 2A state championship game in 1974. A charter member of the Gateway Conference officiating crew in 1988, Leitner was part of the crew that officiated the 1990 and 1993 NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals and he served as an associate official for the Big Ten Conference from 1984-88.
Leitner also was called upon to officiate two IESA state championship games, the 1990 National Catholic Basketball finals, three Shriner All-Star football games and the 1980 IBCA All-Star Classic, while also working for two seasons in the Midwest Professional Football League.
Leitner is a member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Peoria Officials and Bloomington/Normal Officials Halls of Fame.